A blockbuster report from NBC News claimed on Friday afternoon that long before the whistleblower complaint alleging that Donald Trump tried to strong-arm Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky into "investigating" Joe Biden, the Central Intelligence Agency's top in-house lawyer believed the U.S. president committed a crime. The report further alleged that Trump made a "criminal referral" to the United States Justice Department regarding the whistleblower's charges.
But when the Justice Department received the criminal referral, it declined to open an investigation into the potential crime, NBC News reported. In addition, once the existence of the whistleblower report became public, the DOJ -- headed by Trump-appointed Attorney General William Barr -- announced that prosecutors there saw no evidence that the president had committed a crime. However, the NBC News report noted that they examined only the possibility that Trump had committed a campaign finance violation.
The CIA general counsel who submitted the criminal referral, Courtney Simmons Elwood, is also a Trump appointee. She referred the whistleblower's allegations to the Justice Department on August 14, more than one month before the complaint was transmitted to Congress and released publicly, according to a CNN report.
But until Friday's NBC News revelations, Elwood's intention to submit a criminal referral based on Trump's conduct as described by the whistleblower had not been publicly known.
Even the existence of the whistleblower report naming Trump, and its designation as "urgent" by Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson, did not become public until September 13, as The Inquisitr reported. At that time, House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff issued a statement stating that the complaint was being illegally withheld from Congress by the director of national intelligence.
Atkinson testified behind closed doors to the House Intelligence Committee on Friday, explaining the process of his own investigation that corroborated the whistleblower's allegations. According to a report by Politico, this led him to conclude that the information in the complaint was credible.
Democrat Mike Quigley, a member of the Intelligence Committee, said that Atkinson's testimony "cemented the integrity" of the IG's conclusion that the whistleblower was credible, according to Politico.
"Let's put this in perspective, folks," Quigley said following Atkinson's lengthy testimony. "What the inspector general said last time was, the whistleblower pulled the fire alarm. We have now seen the smoke and the fire."
The fact that the CIA's top lawyer also found the information so credible that she issued a criminal referral to the Justice Department also raises "more questions about why the Justice Department later closed the case without conducting an investigation," NBC News reported.